Monday, April 14, 2014

#Tag His Bag

To our village,
We're nearing the end of our journey. We're not done yet, but we're getting close.
We're awaiting our last document before we head to court and become a mom and a dad
We should know our court date in 2 weeks or so
Then, we will go and meet and bring home our son! 

We're inviting you to come along with us, all the way to Africa!!! 
Interested?! Check it out! 

Our plane tickets are about $1,900 each for our flight over to West Africa (for the two of us) 
Then about $1,000 each on the way back (times three)  

Then we have some on the ground expenses to cover, like lodging (we'll be staying in missionary guest houses, court documents and medical appointments) 

Donate any amount,  get "tagged" and come with us! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why I stay

***update: Giveaway closed, winner Lorna Carnahan*** congratulations!!!! 

I'm so excited to have you here today, because I've had the awesome opportunity to partner with several of my Noonday Collection sisters over the next few weeks to share our hearts behind Noonday Collection, and a bonus-each one of us is giving away something Noonday! So fun, right?!

Ok, so this is my second time on the Noonday blog train.  Last season I shared about my trip to Rwanda, and what an impact that had on my life (if you wanna check it out go here).  That time in Rwanda happened almost a year ago, and it's almost like I'm just now coming out of that time and beginning to process what happened there, and beginning to process what it was like meeting some of the women behind the look book pages.

So Noonday.  I've been asking myself recently, what is my Noonday story, what brought me to Noonday, what keeps me here.

I wish I could show you a picture of our little boy, but we can't just yet! But he's one of the reasons that keeps me here, him and millions other like him.

When I started with Noonday our dossier (ton of adoption paperwork) had just been sent off to Ethiopia.  I desperately wanted to be involved with Noonday but my husband told me we needed to get our adoption paperwork off and so I waited, but you better believe the day it went off, I emailed them.

I had my phone interview with Jessica (Noonday's founder) and just got off the phone so encouraged, talking with someone who actually gets it, get's what I was feeling and my desire to do more.

Little did I know the relationships that would be formed with other women over these two years who felt the exact same thing.

Over this past year and a half, I've realized the need for orphan prevention, and what needs to happen for that to take place, and honestly-it won't be all good until Jesus comes back, but we can make a dent in it, and sustainable income opportunities for the poorest of the poor is a huge start.

That's what keeps me here. I want to stay here for the mom who thinks her only option is to give up her child, for the girls who were just trafficked and exploited, for families who need help fundraising to bring their children home, for justice to be served.

I used to feel embarrassed, thinking that people would get mad at me for asking them over and over to host, over and over to purchase.  But honestly, I don't care anymore because I met some of the faces behind the look book and they're worth it. They're worth fighting for. I will continue to tell their stories, because I honestly know that is what God has called me to do, and that's really something that's taken a long time for me to admit, that it's more than just selling you a paper bead necklace (although they're awesome and you should buy one) it's me connecting you to another person on the other side of the world who you can directly impact and who you can provide hope to.

Photos courtesy of Wurzbach Fisher Photography 

So I'm giving away a Market Tote from Rwanda.  I met the Rwandan artisans last year when some friends and I took a trip over, and recently my heart has ached to go back to the land of a thousand hills. So I thought I'd bring Rwanda to YOU! And give away a market tote! So go ahead and enter! I'll announce the winner on Friday!

And make sure you head over to Paige's blog for yesterday's giveaway and over to Baylors blog tomorrow for a giveaway too!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Well, here's a little update for you finally...

I sit down to write this post with my hands still shaking, still in awe of what the last week has brought.  I want to write it down so that I don't forget, because even though it's only been a week things kind of blend together already, and the things that happened are important for me to remember.

Last week started off as a hard week, we still had no idea when our paperwork would come, we were in such a state of limbo.  I felt like we just kept telling people "hopefully we'll hear something this week" over and over. and over.

Last Wednesday I prayed so hard that our paperwork would move. I had NO idea literally what to pray for but I knew that I needed to pray. So I did. I was pretty raw and kind of mad in my prayer, but I knew that I needed to be honest, so I was.

The next day (literally like 12 hours later) we got word that our money was requested.  Now, that wasn't a huge deal, we knew that they needed our money to release the documents but had to idea how long it would take after they got it to release them. So while that was a huge relief, we still really had no news, but any news in West Africa is good news, so even though it was small we took it!

So backtrack, Thursday our money was wired.

Then Monday, that was a hard day.  Our little guys birthday is coming up in a week, and so I prayed again, I prayed boldly that we could get our paperwork filed before his birthday.  I knew it was a long shot because we really had no timeline. But I prayed anyway.

Justin jokes with me that I just need to get mad, and get "at my whits end!" because that's when stuff usually happens.  When we feel like we're at the end.

Yesterday morning an email pops up "We have your documents! They came last night!"
I just started at the email, feeling like I couldn't breathe, and my hands were shaking. I remember calling Justin crying, so relieved.  The government in little mans country had approved us to be a family. 

So yesterday we signed our documents, and sent them off to USCIS (immigration) petition for "little man" to be recognized as our son and to start his visa application.  

And then we ran (almost literally) to the post office to get that baby sent off! 

Excuse the terrible picture quality, it was dark and rainy. And I couldn't sit still. 

So here's what's next! 
We wait for US approval, and once they issue that the US will issue our "Article 5 letter" which tells the country that we can go to court, and then we go to court. 

And then we GO! 

It will probably be a few months, maybe 2, two and a half. 

But it's close, much closer. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Race With a Never Ending Finish Line...

A year ago tomorrow we saw our son's face for the first time..a simple, innocent email that has drastically changed our lives.  I remember it so was a Tuesday night and Justin had come back from playing basketball with his city league team like he does every Tuesday.  It was an ordinary day, much like any other I guess.  I remember it was later, maybe after 10pm.  This message popped up in my inbox from a friend, it was super basic and I definitely had no idea what to do with it.

I read it to Justin, we looked at some pictures of a sweet little boy on the other side of the world.  I didn't feel anything like I thought I'd feel when we would see our child's face, what I felt, felt normal, but not overly emotional, I can't really put into words what I felt..I definitely felt a tug to advocate for the little guy but I remember thinking "God what they heck are you doing? We aren't supposed to be adopting from ******, we're supposed to be adopting from Ethiopia.  We're doing what you asked, we widened our age, we widened our parameters, duh, we're doing what we're "supposed" to be doing.  We felt like we needed to be ready to fill a need. Now what am I supposed to do now that I've seen this little do I advocate for his country even open to adoption (and then I check the country stats on the US Adoption website) ok yes I see it's open and oh yes I see that about 10 adoptions have come out of there since 2002, now that's definitely going to be a tough thing to advocate.."

So I responded back, pretty basic, and shut the computer.  I literally had no idea where to start, google wasn't much help at all, and I remember thinking "what in the WORLD is God trying shake things up for?!"

...There's a little glimpse inside my head at this time last year.

This verse popped into my head a lot during that time.. “Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act.”  Proverbs 24:12

I knew it wasn't by accident that we saw little mans face and began to learn his story.  I had no idea how to advocate for him, and so in my exploring on how adoption in his country works, it was obvious that WE were his family and WE were supposed to answer the call to fight for him.  And once we knew that, everything changed.  It just felt natural, and normal. We've looked at his pictures multiple times a day for the last 365 days. We've (ok me) may or may not have cried at the desk of the US State Department in Sacramento last summer when something was wrong with our paperwork and explained to the lady behind the counter that I will NOT leave until it's fixed because didn't she understand that's our son and every delay causes more of a delay?! (one day I'll go back up there with him and introduce them ;) ) 

God funded our Ethiopian adoption right before we saw our son (who was in a different country) so right when we wanted to take a deep breath and rest a little on the financial side God says.."Guess what?! It's time again!" And the provision poured in..through amazing ways..ask me about the email I messed up for a grant while we were in Rwanda, here's a little glimpse..I thought I blew it with this grant..I totally was typing this long email on my CELL phone in Africa (those of you who have been can laugh at that) then I sent it and realized my auto corrected totally messed up..which in turn sent an email to the organization that read this in the subject line "Grant HELL application" it was supposed to say "grant help application" and it was supposed to go to our social worker, but instead went to the grant organization reading hell. I died. 

But we got the grant..that covered almost HALF of our West Africa adoption expenses. The lady at the organization was so gracious and told me my slip up made her laugh after a long day..well I'm glad one of us laughed..

Whenever I felt at the end this year, alone and unsure of what was going to happen next..we got news..big or little, any news is good news in West Africa. It was like little reminders of God tapping us on the shoulder and saying "I never said it was going to be easy, but I told you I'd be here." And He was (and still is). Even when we forgot. 

...although there might not be lots of updates on here, things are progressing! Our paperwork is right where it needs to be right now, and we're (supposedly) waiting on one last letter to get our little guys docs sent over here and work on the US side. Slowly, but they are progressing none the less! It's like we're running a race with a finish line that gets pushed back further and futher as soon as we turn on what we think will be the last lap..but we're still running, dragging and gasping for breath at times, but we're still going. confident that God will finish what we started. 

This has been one of my favorite songs in this journey, when I'm bummed and feel defeated I turn on some good old SCC and it reminds me why we started, and that HE will finish what He started. 

Here's a link to an interview about what's behind the lyrics, so encouraging. 

On February 14th, our little guy will turn 4! We're hoping and praying to have big news by his birthday..will you pray with us? 

Monday, November 18, 2013

2 years later...

Almost two years ago, we made this announcement.

Two years.

24 months we've been on this crazy emotional roller coaster better known as international adoption.

I think back to two years ago, we were so different, so naive.  We were ready to open our home and our hearts to a little baby boy from Ethiopia who was between 0-12 months old.

Hold the phone! That's definitely not how things have worked out.

In two years we've traveled to Rwanda, to Ecuador.

We were totally rocked by  not only adoption but whole orphan care, which sometimes doesn't always equal adoption.  We went from thinking everyone should adopt (I know, I know) to beginning to fight for children to stay in their first families, because that's how God intended things, but sometimes that doesn't work out.

We saw our son's face for the first time..but SURPRISE he wasn't in Ethiopia, he was living in a tiny little country in West Africa.

So now, two years later, we wait to bring home our precious (now) 3 1/2 year old. And we continue to wait and pray for our sweet one in Ethiopia, who probably won't be 0-12 months anymore, from our original "plan."  We've learned that God has a totally different plan than ours (at least that's how it looks for us)

Sometimes people tell me they could never do what we're doing, and how we do it.  Well, I'll give you some pointers; some days outright suck.  Just being real.  Knowing your child's on the other side of the world is tough, it's freaking hard, but you know what? Some days are good, and we get updates, and we see pictures, and we see how he's growing!

Today I started thinking, if I knew now what I knew back when we started, would we still be here? I think yes. Definitely yes. Wouldn't change a thing, wouldn't take back the tears, wouldn't take back the anxiety of waiting on foreign countries, because that has totally changed us.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A little bit of honesty, and a little update!

These last six months have probably been some of the hardest of my life.

We started our adoption process almost 2 years ago.

2 years.

January 20th of this year we got information about a little boy who (we would have no idea at the time) God would orchestrate many many circumstances to show us he is our son.

He was about 2 1/2 when we first saw his face.  He's now 3 (we think) we're not 100% sure of his birthday, but we think he celebrated it this summer. :)

We hit so many walls with his paperwork. But we were not alone.  The families in this process with us also have hit many walls. We've cried tears together over others mistakes, and rejoiced over small progress.

A friend of mine suggested that I write a blessings journal, because let's face it. Sometimes it's really hard to find blessings when stuff seems to fall apart or you feel completely out of control.

So I've started to write my blessings.

I've got a lot of them.

But it's pretty hard.  It's hard to see and study a face for so long and know you're missing things. It's hard knowing that things are completely out of our hands, we literally have no control over what happens from here on out and the time frame in which that happens. We don't have a "due date"  we can't just call up Africa and speed things up, it just doesn't work that way.


Right now we do have an update though! Our paperwork finally went on it's way to our little West African country last week! This is big news because we can't officially get any of little man's official paperwork (known as the 'Article 16') until our paperwork was received by his country.  So, now that it's on it's way and should be there soon, we are praying that we get his Article 16 soon.

Will you pray with us? Pray that we can receive it soon.

Also, pray for the families in front of us specifically, there are two of them.  They are nearing the end  and are awaiting big documents too!

We're paying big and praying bold. Please join us! 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

No News Fridays

So we've begun a little tradition in our house, and it's affectionately called "No News Fridays" or better described as "A spin on that sad sinking feeling you get in your gut when 5pm rolls around on a Friday night and you know you probably won't have any communication in regards to your adoption until Monday"...oh and it's worse it Monday is a holiday...

It's really not that bad. Or it is. It depends on how the week has gone up to that day really.

So, I LOVE Fridays, I really do.  There's just something about them,, sometimes I can't even sleep on Thursday night because I'm so excited Friday is almost here (it's weird I know).  But as of recently..I hate Fridays, well usually.  Because I know that usually by Friday around 4ish if you haven't heard anything big or exciting form our agency, it's going to be a loooonnng weekend of wondering. Two days of (usually, sometimes there's an exception) no emails or phone calls from our case worker (of whom I really love and am constantly badgering, so she really should get a few days free of my phone calls and emails)

But it's hard, it's hard knowing that another week has passed.

So, we have adopted 'No News Friday', where we'll put a spin on a usually hard day and do something fun to get our minds off of entering the weekend with no news.  Sometimes we plan something together, or sometimes if I'm entering the weekend on a sad note, Justin picks something fun.

I know we won't always have No News Fridays, and while I like the idea of them..I'm praying we don't have too many...

Here's to a fun twist of no news on Fridays!
Wanna join the fun?!